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The largest town within the Ilm district of Thuringia, Ilmenau is located about 33km from Erfurt and 135km from Nuremberg. It sits on the edge of the Thuringian Forest with a population of about 36,000. Historically a small mining town (think silver and copper), it was in 1838 that tourism happened due to having a spa within its midst. It has been home to many winter Olympic champions in such events as bobsleigh, biathlon and the luge. Ilmenau's "Technische Universitat Ilmenau" has 7,000 students running amok in its halls, hanging out in cafes sipping coffee or colluding in coworking venues. Since 1990 many research institutes have been established in the area around the university creating a buzzing hub of tech research.

Once a thriving enclave for the production of glassware and porcelain during the 19th and 20th Centuries, Ilmenau has gained a reputation as being a mechanical engineering, polymer processing and software engineering hub. Germany's startup scene is a bit of a mixed bag with almost 30% of startup staff not being German. There are a few hurdles to overcome such as red tape hassles, language barriers and the fact that most founders wish to hire skilled foreign workers. Eight out of ten German startups wish to go international, but legal systems and regulations may be inhibitors in this regard.
Despite these niggles, coworking spaces are overflowing with creatives mingling within a vibrant community who get to take their lunch breaks playing in fluffy snow before heading off for a beer.

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